By Mark Ambrogi
Four Hamilton Co. mayors shared views and one-liners on the same stage at a OneZone event May 11 at the Forum Conference Center in Fishers.
The mayors took questions from the audience, including one on how they work with the state legislature on laws that may affect their cities.
“The best thing the legislature can do is stay home and let us run our communities, ” Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear said. “However, that’s not going to change. I think they have 150 mayors down there (in Indianapolis) that want to run our cities. So they pass a law and (believe) one size fits all and it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Westfield Mayor Andy Cook said, “I thought maybe part of the answer was building a wall at 96th Street. Coming in from the private sector 10 years ago and dealing with municipal finance, I’m absolutely appalled at the laws and policies that hinder growing cities.”
One place where the mayors do agree with the state legislature is with a gas tax to improve the roads.
“Somebody has to have the fortitude to say our roads are in terrible shape, the gas price jump up and down five to 10 cents every day and we need a gas tax as a revenue source to fix our roads,” Ditslear said. “It’s paid for by the user so if you don’t drive a lot, you don’t pay a lot.”
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard agreed, suggesting a mileage-based formula.
“Somebody on social security who drives 10 miles a week shouldn’t be paying as much as someone who drives a couple miles a week or a trucker who comes through the state from New York or California,” Brainard said. “We have to look at how it’s calculated. As we get more efficient cars, we probably ought to go to a system that is based on mileage. The technology exists to do that or will (exist) very soon.”
Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said the failed Indiana House proposal, which included raising the gas tax from 18 cents to 22 cents per gallon and an increase of a $1 tax on cigarette packs, was the best long-term solution for road funding.
“We made a small step forward,” Fadness said. “But I am hoping we can revive that conversation in the next legislature because there were a lot of good things in there and it was a sustainable, systemic approach to an ongoing infrastructure issue.”